Rupert Neve, a pioneering audio engineer who developed recording equipment that revolutionized the music industry, has died at 94. According to a statement posted to his website, his death was due to “non-COVID pneumonia and heart failure.”
Neve’s mixing consoles, microphone preamplifiers, equalizers, and compressors were integral to the sound of classic rock and beyond. His equipment was used by artists like Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Santana, and innumerable others, and many of his most beloved inventions have been converted into digital plugins for the modern age.
He was born in Newton Abbott, England in 1926, and became fascinated with electronics at an early age. He spent his childhood repairing radios while growing up in Argentina, and eventually volunteered to serve in World War II when he was 17. As an adult, he worked for various electronic companies before and he and his wife started Neve Electronics in 1961.
Three years later, he designed a transistor-based mixing console for London’s Phillips Studios, replacing the vacuum-based-designs that had been previously been the standard. That kickstarted a fruitful and highly regarded career as a studio equipment inventor. After designing the Neve 50 and Neve 80 mixing desks, he developed the beloved Neve 8028 console, which was featured in Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary in 2013.
One of his most essential creations was the Neve 1073 preamplifier, which is still celebrated today as one of the best microphone preamps of all time. Both its physical and digital versions are still used today to adjust the gain and sound of microphones in the recording booth, like on recent albums from Tame Impala, Daft Punk, and Bon Iver.
Neve and his wife sold his namesake company in 1975, but he continued to invent new recording technology throughout the rest of his life. He moved to Texas in 1994, and in 1997, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Technical Grammy Award. He and his wife founded Rupert Neve Designs in 2005 and built dozens of high quality products using both digital and analog materials.
Neve is survived by his wife, Evelyn, five children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
While Rupert’s passions for music, creativity, and insistence on exceptional quality have made an indelible mark on the fabric of the recording industry, his kindness and generosity made him a legend to us all.
— Rupert Neve Designs (@Rupert_Neve) February 13, 2021
Very sad news. Impossible to fully capture the impact this man had on music and the audio community. His voice, artistry and fingerprint is left on a million records and a million more to come.
RIP Rupert Neve. https://t.co/ElwclIID7y
— Tape Op (@tapeopmag) February 13, 2021
RIP Rupert Neve. The greatest of all time. pic.twitter.com/oi4CeLMnpe
— martin from chvrches (@doksan) February 13, 2021
A man whose legacy influences nearly every sound that comes out of the modern studio. Rest in peace, Rupert Neve. pic.twitter.com/DJRZXYriDC
— Universal Audio (@UAudio) February 14, 2021
His legend and genius lives on in uncountable recordings of music in every genre. Amazing how one man can touch so many lives in a good way and yet most people wont know who he is… but we do!!!!! RIP Rupert Neve https://t.co/s2hKMQZMX8
— Joe Perry (@JoePerry) February 13, 2021
Abbey Road Studios has a long and proud history recording with equipment that bears Rupert Neve’s name, dating back to the EMI Neve console of the mid-1970s, and we are very saddened to hear of his passing. His name will continue to epitomise audio excellence. pic.twitter.com/YcDZhUogAg
— Abbey Road Studios (@AbbeyRoad) February 14, 2021